Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Something awful happened yesterday.
Suddenly looking through my Facebook and Twitter feeds I found out that there had been several explosions at the Boston Marathon.
Explosions. Injuries. Fatalities.
Unfathomable situations to consider.
Social media is incredibly informative. We learn news in the blink of an eye, but just as quickly we can receive misinformation and find ourselves giving out incorrect details because we want to share and we want to help.
Social media can also be terribly triggering when it comes to disasters such as these. Sometimes we cannot handle what is happening in the world. Stories such as this horrible tragedy in Boston trigger dark thoughts for many of us. We get stuck in that mindset and can't push it down.
These are perfectly normal reactions to a tragedy such as this one.
But it's also totally okay to WALK AWAY.
We want to remind you that it is perfectly acceptable and often REQUIRED to walk away from the news stories. YOU are most important here. Yes, it's a horrible thing. Terrible. Emotional. Anxiety-provoking. But you need to know that if you are overwhelmed with the news you do not need to watch it, read it or listen to it.
Don't look for it. You'll hear it all eventually. It's not critical for you to know immediately what is happening.
Nobody will judge you for not participating. Nobody will ask you if you watched the Anderson Cooper show or read the latest AP News information. There will be no quiz here.
Social media IS amazing. But sometimes people just jump feet first without actually thinking or researching. And pictures that do not need to be seen get tossed about. Horrible. What for? Nobody needs to see that. Especially you.
If you are a parent, you are probably protecting your child(ren) from these things. There's no harm in protecting yourself, as well. I would recommend you do it.
I remind you, because I know that in times like these we often forget, that taking care of you is most important here. Avoid triggers. Close the laptop. Take a walk. Play with your kids. Eat something chocolatey. Dance around your living room. Sing your favorite song. Buy yourself a fancy coffee. Cry if you think it will help. But don't hole yourself up with the footage. It's not healthy and it's not necessary. Because we want you to take care of you. We want you to remain safe. And we want to help keep you that way.
If you find yourself looking for answers or resources, please consider reviewing some of these Band Back Together resource pages. And if you need to, reach out. We're here.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Resources
Emotional Shock Resources
We, The Band, keep the people of Boston in our hearts today and in the coming days as they face the aftermath of these horrible events.
Most of us, well, we've been through some garbage in our lives - and we've given power to a lot of people who simply don't deserve it.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. We here at Band Back Together are shining the spotlight on ALL survivors. Depression, Abuse, Trauma.
It's time to take back the power. Tell us how YOU have taken the power back in your life!
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
As a survivor, April is the month I join with others to spread awareness and education. I firmly believe that not only do we need to teach our girls to be strong and show them the signs to recognize an unhealthy relationship, but we also need to raise our young men to treat everyone with respect. If we can do this, we can raise young people that have healthy relationships and who respect each other.
Last year, I wrote about my intimate partner rape. I also wrote about learning to be a survivor. These two stories are important pieces of me. Even more important is this story of how to survive.
Rape, in any form, leaves scars. Those scars will never go away, though with time they will fade. Like any trauma, rape can cause the survivor to struggle with PTSD. Triggers and flashbacks are a very real likelihood.
In the years right after I left my abuser, I had frequent flashbacks. It seemed everything was a trigger. A green semi truck on the road, men who walked or talked a certain way, a song on the radio, even certain foods or restaurants. I struggled each time something triggered me. It would take all my strength to stand my ground and not go running.
Over time, some of these triggers have faded. The flashbacks are less frequent. So infrequent, actually, that it takes me a few moments to recognize them for what they are.
Last week while napping with my fiance, something triggered me. Whether it was the feel of a rough sheet under my cheek or the way the air brushed my hair across my face, I don't know. All of a sudden, it was a different voice whispering “I love you” in my ear, it was a different hand that rested on my hip.
As the memory faded, and I could once again see the here and now, I was left near tears. My fiance held me as I tried to make sense of what had just happened. And as he rubbed my back, all of a sudden, it didn't matter. I realized those flashbacks only had power if I gave it to them.
I am a survivor.
I have overcome so much, surely I will not allow a bad memory to bring me to my knees. I have someone who truly loves me now, who will never hurt me. His love and understanding give me strength to stand up to those memories of my past and shove them away.
I have the power over how I allow my past to affect me. And I refuse to allow my abuser to have any place in my life, not even in my mind. He is nothing and he no longer has any power over me. This is part of my path of healing.
I am in charge of me. I've taken back the power.
The murder of a loved one shakes a family to its very core, leaving behind irreparable damage to the survivors.
This is her story.
I don't talk about how I feel.
How my brother's murder has changed me.
But I need to.
The truth is, I am exhausted, both mentally and physically, all the time. I think about my brother and how he died every day.
Every. Single. Day.
Probably every hour of every day. Some days every minute. It's not something that will ever go away. It's a part of me. It has changed every single aspect of who I am. Anyone who knew me before it happened has to get to know me all over again because the girl I was before is not the girl that is left standing here today.
I wish that I could have gone home for Christmas. That Christmas was the last time everyone in my family got to see my brother. And I didn't. Because I was nine months pregnant. The last time I saw him was almost a year before he died and I can never change that.
I wish that the remaining members of my family could find some peace.
I wish that I had never seen the face of a mother who has lost a child. My Mother.
I wish that one of my remaining brothers would put aside his hate and open his heart to me. For both of our sakes.
I wish that I could explain to people why this is so much harder to get over than a normal death. I wish that I could let them know that the violence of it all has affected me in every way possible. That PTSD is a real thing.
That no one wants to fake this.
The world in general causes me anxiety now. I can't watch the news because it makes me fold up inside myself to watch all of the horrible things that are out there in the world. I can't watch movies because the violence in them does the same thing. Even at work I am triggered every single day by something mindless someone says.
There are days that everything I see and hear remind me of my brother's brutal demise. They send my mind to dark places, make me think of the unthinkable. They make me relive every last detail of what happened, down to his last breath. But I have to keep moving, keep living, keep acting like I am okay through it all.
There are days when I am afraid to leave my house. Days where it feels like the world is going to crumble around me and everything good in my life will be taken if I take just one step. Days when I feel like it will never get better and I will never be okay again.
But then there are days that are not so bad. Days when I feel like it is getting better. And there is hope.
The reason I do my puppy dogs and rainbows blog posts isn't to be all, "Hey, look how fucking awesome my life is and yours isn't." It's because some days looking at them is all I have left to hold onto. Some days are just so dark I need to have somewhere to find the light.
I see people differently now. I am more empathetic. I care about people who are hurting, even if I don't know them, simply because I wish that someone had done the same for me.
The ones who haven't been there for me have kind of fallen away from my life. Not because of what they did, but because I have changed and they don't know that. I miss the people that are no longer in my life, but I just can't do anything about it. It is hard to explain that one single moment in time has changed every fiber of my being, but it has. And I could never explain that to someone.
There just aren't words. Because there shouldn't have to be.
But there are new people that have surfaced. People who have meant more to me then they can know. Just for being present, being with me, even when we don't acknowledge why. Just for being good people. And I love you so much for that. More than I will ever express, because I am just not good at that kind of stuff.
In the long run, my brother's death has made me better. I am no longer selfish or vain or careless. I am very purposeful in everything I do. I am a better friend. A better mother. A better person. I feel more. I care more. I am more. Shockingly, I am actually more positive and see things in a more forgiving light now.
But I sure as fuck wish I could've reached enlightenment in a different way. Because though I am outwardly better, I am inwardly irreparably broken.
And that is okay.
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I'm 18 years old. My step-dad raped me multiple times before I even started kindergarten. In fact, I was still going to play school.
It's blurry and fuzzy but I remember crying when my mom would leave for work and I knew I would have to stay home alone with this monster while my older brothers went to school.
I never realized what he did was wrong, not until I got older. He was gone by then.
I remember how it would start, then I don't remember anymore. I know for a fact he raped me, though. Maybe it was so bad God blocked the image and feeling out of my memory. I just remember he would lay me on my mom's bed and I would have to put a pillow on my head and he would do whatever he did. I could never look at him.
I was embarrassed but I didn't know it was wrong! It's so hard to try to explain but I hope you guys could relate in some way.
He was also very mean to me, he always hit me and yelled at me when my mom was around. But the minute she left, he was nice and caring. He was a sick joke!
I have dreams of finding him and killing him. He took something away from me, as a child and a teenager.
I have the lowest self esteem you can imagine. I can't let myself get close to guys because I'm scared of getting hurt or being rejected. Ever since being a child, I've never done anything sexual with anyone and I'm 18, almost 19. The farthest I've gone is to make out, and I can only make out with guys when I'm drunk.
It's horrible that I block myself from guys. Even my guy friends - I won't approach them unless they come to me and the whole time they're talking to me I smile and laugh and joke around but I'm always out of my comfort zone. I just can't be close to any guy. It's weird. He messed up my life and I know he will burn in hell.
I read about rape trauma symptoms and I have almost all of them. I cried reading them.
I don't have a close relationship to my mom. When I told her about the abuse, she didn't believe me. She said she thinks maybe I watched a movie and for some reason I got it stuck in my head that it happened to me...
Now that I'm older I can only yell at her when I'm intoxicated. She has said she's sorry and there's nothing she can do about it now. I have so much hate towards her and she wonders why!
What's wrong with me? I feel like I'll be forever alone because I cannot leave the bubble I have created around myself.
I had not experienced an intense flashback for quite some time. The little ones come and go, like minor aftershocks grown accustomed to from living on the fault line of child sexual abuse. I thought I moved away from the earthquake zone after completing EMDR treatment two years ago.
Last night, I shut my laptop at 12:20 a.m. After cleaning it with Norton Utilities, upon restart, Windows refused to load. I couldn't get it to do anything. My Toshiba wouldn't even work in safe mode. All I wanted to do was read blogs that I enjoy, give a bit of reciprocity, and go to bed. I was frustrated and tired
I shut out the light and my head began to spin. That's the best way I can describe it. Even thinking of it now I get dizzy. I thought my body was telling me to prepare to hunker down for "The Big One," a 9.0 on the Richter scale. However, I ignored it.
I thought, "I don't have those anymore. It's one of those little recurring things, it will pass."
And I got into bed.
It was there - all of it. The one memory I knew existed, yet could not retrieve.
I hate it.
I hate it because in that moment, I couldn't keep from reliving something that my mind worked very hard at burying away in the Mariana Trench. I had no control of my thoughts. At a minimum, I was horrified and panic stricken:
A flashback is an emotional return to trauma. It is a type of memory so strong that it seems like you are actually back in the time, place, and situation you are remembering. In your mind, you may believe you are back at the scene of the assault. In your mind you may have a picture of the assault. This picture could seem like an image that is frozen in time, like a photograph, or it could seem like you are watching a movie of your life.
I hate it because I couldn't beat it. I was desperately trying to focus on the shadows on the wall, figure out what triggered this attack, but I couldn't:
Flashbacks happen when you are awake and can be triggered by almost anything: a smell, sound, taste, or touch.
I hate it because my mind is too precious to lose. I had trouble discerning reality. I knew someone other than M was in our room. I just knew it:
Your brain believes each flashback is a separate incident and a real situation. Some flashbacks are so confusing that it gets hard to tell the difference between what is happening in the flashback and what is happening in the real world around you.
I hate it for M because he needs me today and I am not yet back to normal.
I hate it for my girls because I do not want them to be affected by this. It's not theirs. It's mine. I never want my father to have anything to do with them, even if it's in the mere residue of my behavior.
I hate it for every little girl who is going to go to bed tonight and be terrorized by an earthquake.
I survived. The worst part was over many years ago.
I have a computer to fix and earthquake insurance to buy.
When I stand on moving ground, although I feel weak, my well-worn feet still hold me steady.
On with the day.
It's my life and I want it.
If you know any one who suffers from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), support them in getting support.
Start here and here.
photo credit: CowGummy via photo pin cc
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